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Histotoxic Hypoxia Histotoxic Hypoxia occurs when there is oxygen delivered to the cells of the brain, but damage to the cellular metabolism, of the cells makes this oxygen unusable.
Examples include the effects of ingesting substances such as cyanide or sodium azide, or the inhalation of hydrogen sulphide. Substances that interfere with the blood glucose (the essential energy source to the cerebral cells) will also cause death (eg. if insulin is used to drive down blood sugar).
Making Hypoxia ‘Happy’
Not all of these hypoxic death are ‘happy’. The hypoxic hypoxia brought about from inhaling pure nitrogen will be disorientating and mildly euphoric, before it results in a rapid loss of consciousness and death. But hypoxic hypoxia brought about from obstructing the airway (eg. hanging) is terrifying, and one will struggle to free the obstruction. While hanging may be a reliable hypoxic death, it is not peaceful.
The term ‘happy hypoxia’ first gained attention in early 2020 druing the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people whose lungs were severely affected by the virus (so that oxygen could not readily cross into the blood), were found to be hypoxic. However, these patients were not particularly distressed.